Main addresses mining fatalities in wake of incidents

By |  August 5, 2015

Joe Main, assistant secretary of labor for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), addressed the mining industry on a conference call Aug. 3 – two days after three miners lost their lives in separate incidents across the United States.

Main expressed his concern over the recent number of mining deaths and says MSHA will step up enforcement efforts and intensify outreach and education nationwide.

“In the past month alone, there have been five fatalities in the metal and nonmetal industry,” Main says. “Not since 2002 have three miners died in a single day in this mining sector. We cannot – we will not – accept this turn of events. We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of the miners who died in these tragic accidents.”

MSHA detailed the nature of the three incidents in a press release. In North Dakota, a loader operator was engulfed by a stockpile failure while standing outside his vehicle at a construction sand-and-gravel mine. In Nevada, a miner at an underground gold ore operation was killed when he was struck by mobile equipment. In Virginia, a plant operator was buried under tons of sand and stone dust when a silo collapsed at a quarry.

MSHA has launched investigations into the causes of each of these fatalities.

In addition, Main announced that the agency will begin “beefed-up” inspections, with a focus on violations commonly associated with mining deaths. Federal inspectors will emphasize “walk and talks” with miners and operators to disseminate information on fatalities and best practices for preventing them. MSHA coal mine inspectors, along with training and educational field personnel, will be tapped to assist in the initiative.

“We will need everyone’s cooperation with these efforts to reverse the trend in mining deaths,” Main says.

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Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or

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